PETERBOROUGH-Peterborough Public Health (PPH) is notifying residents and visitors that Rogers Cove and Beavermead beaches will remain closed after the presence blue-green algae was confirmed.
Officials say the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) sampled the beach at Rogers Cove after reports of suspect blue-green algae at both Rogers Cove and Beavermead beaches on July 14. On Friday July 21, the MECP confirmed the presence of a harmful blue-green algae bloom at Rogers Cove. Monday the MECP confirmed this sample had a total microcystin toxin amount of 169 µg/L, exceeding Health Canada’s recreational water limit of 10 µg/L. The MECP will collect additional samples from both beaches again with results anticipated by the end of this week.
Although there is no immediate risk to Peterborough or Lakefield’s municipal drinking water supplies, exposure to toxins through activities like drinking, swimming and bathing can cause illness and discomfort. Common symptoms include itchy, irritated eyes and skin, rash, headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting according to the Health Unit. Pets and farm animals that consume contaminated water may experience sickness or death. The risk to humans is primarily from drinking water that has been contaminated with toxins from a dense harmful algae bloom. Long-term consumption of water containing high levels of cyanobacterial toxins may cause neurological or liver problems.
Residents downstream of Little Lake are encouraged to monitor water for the presence of blue-green algae. Dense blue-green algae blooms can make the water look like a bluish-green pea soup, or a shiny paint slick. Fresh blue-green algae blooms often smell like fresh cut grass, while older blooms can have a strong septic- or garbage-like odour. To report a suspect blue-green algae bloom, residents should contact the MECP Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.
If algae blooms are visible:
- Do not use the water for drinking, food preparation, bathing, showering, or swimming use.
- Do not allow children, pets, or livestock to swim in or drink the water.
- If skin contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove the algae.
- Do not boil the water. Boiling will not remove the toxins and may release more of the toxin into the water.
- Residents should avoid cooking with the water because food may absorb toxins from the water during cooking.
- Fishing is generally considered safe and there is low risk to human health from eating fish caught during a peak blue-green algal bloom condition.
- Be aware that home treatment systems for water may not remove toxins and may become clogged.
- Do not treat the water with a disinfectant such as chlorine bleach. This action may break open algal cells and release toxins into the water.
For more information on blue-green algae, visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/blue-green-algae/.
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